South Korea to Host Next Nuclear Summit in 2012

WASHINGTON -- South Korea's president announced Tuesday that his country will host the next global nuclear summit in 2012. But Lee Myung-bak said North Korean leader Kim Jong Il won't get an invitation until the North gives up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Speaking to reporters at the current summit, Lee urged Kim to return to stalled six-nation negotiations meant to rid the North of its nuclear programs.

"If we can achieve substantial results through such peaceful dialogue, then of course we will be welcoming North Korea to take part in subsequent meetings, and we hope that will happen," Lee said through an interpreter.

Lee was visibly proud that South Korea had been given the honor of hosting the second summit. South Korea will also host the Group of 20 economic summit of rich and developing nations later this year.

Lee said nuclear security is especially crucial to his country because of its northern neighbor.

More On This...

    "It has particular meaning and significance for Korea, a country that has always been exposed to the dangers of nuclear weapons and proliferation," Lee said.

    North Korea's efforts to build a nuclear weapons program kept it out of the Washington summit. North Korea points to the United States and its 28,000 troops stationed in the South as a main reason behind its drive to build nuclear weapons.

    The United States and other regional powers have been trying to coax North Korea back to the disarmament talks it walked out of last year.

    Relations between the two Koreas have worsened since Lee's conservative government took office in early 2008 with a pledge to get tough with the North.

    But North Korea has tried to reach out to Washington and Seoul since last summer has been in an about-face that could be the result of U.N. sanctions adopted to punish the North for its nuclear test in May.

    "It is my sincere hope that North Korea this year and next year will display their sincere and genuine commitment to return to the six-party talks," Lee said.